Speaking Out for Young Workers

Speaking Out for Young Workers

Commentary and news on occupational health and safety for young workers.


National Public Health Week Planning

Image of staff filming videos for training.

This year, the American Association of Public Health choose "Safety is NO Accident" as its theme for National Public Health Week (NPHW), which runs from April 4- April 10, 2011. At our offices at GTRI, we were ecstatic when we learned about this year's theme because injury and illness prevention is what we do on a daily basis. During the initial planning for the week's events, we realized that since two employees in our office (Hilarie Warren and myself) are alums of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University (Rollins), it would be an excellent opportunity to collaborate with them. Since we needed to film videos for our Young Worker safety and health training for the online modules and Rollins had students willing to be actors and actresses, we went to work last Friday filming the first two of nine short videos. These videos are designed to highlight typical experiences where young workers are faced with difficult decisions related to safety and health in the workplace. These scenarios are designed to educate young workers about their rights and responsibilities as an employee and to encourage discussion on how they can stand up for their rights and handle workplace safety problems.

These videos, in additional for several other videos will be featured at a NPHW kickoff event at Rollins where students, faculty, and community members will come together to discuss the topic of injury and illness prevention on Monday, April 4th at 6 pm.

This was my first experience filming, and it was a great one! Even though on a typical day I serve as the project director for the Center for Young Worker Safety and Health at GTRI, on this day I got to be the operator of the boom microphone. Well, let's give myself a more glorious title: sound technician? I think that will do.

My co-worker HIlarie Warren did an excellent job coordinating the event with Jennifer Lynn Richards, the current president of the Rollins Student Government Association at Rollins. This included securing space for filming, procuring the props for the scenes, making sure the actors and actresses had the appropriate costumes, and timing the whole thing. Our amazing student worker, Carlos Rios, did all of the filming and directing of the scenes. A special thanks goes to the Computational Media Department here at Georgia Institute of Technology for loaning the equipment and training its students so well. And we had some amazing volunteers from Rollins, who gave up parts of their day to star in videos that will be used to educate young workers about injury and illness prevention and their rights are as an employee.

Specifically, I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to:

For the “Laboratory Safety video”:

  • Mary Mbaba, who stared as "Keisha," a graduate student conducting research in a laboratory
  • Robby Gladem who stared as "Tony," a young worker starting out as a new teaching assistant
  • Hilarie Warren who stared as "Professor McDougal" a chemistry professor

Thank you to Professor Barry Ryan, Geneva Bernoudy, and Dean Surbey, all from Emory, who helped allow this scene to happen.

For the “Convenience Store video”:

  • Taiwo Talabi, who stared as "Marcus," a store clerk
  • Gabriela Aguilar, who stared as a customer at the convenience store
  • Parini Shah, who stared as "Jessica," a 18-year old cashier
  • Opaneye Kare, who stared as "Terry," the store manager

Thank you to Chris Munkel, Chef Leslie, Joe Mitchell, and Dean Surbey, all from Emory, who helped to allow this scene to happen.


I cannot wait to see how the editing portion of this project works out. Right now both Carlos and the other student research assistant, Dylan Demyanek are working hard on the editing to make sure it is ready for Monday night.

I am looking forward to National Public Health Week.

What are your plans for NPHW?

Until Next Time,

Jenny Houlroyd